LYFE Kitchen, a unique California-based restaurant concept, will move its headquarters to Memphis and open two locations, one in Downtown and another in East Memphis.
LYFE Kitchen, a unique California-based restaurant concept, will move its headquarters to Memphis and open two locations – one in Downtown and another in East Memphis.
Palo Alto, Calif.-based LYFE, which stands for Love Your Food Everyday, will open a restaurant in the former Sharky’s Gulf Grill location at 6201 Poplar Ave. and another inside Downtown’s Chisca Hotel, now under construction.
Memphis-based restaurant operator and developer Carlisle Corp., which owns the two Memphis properties where LYFE will open its first restaurants, made an equity investment in the growing chain, which now has 10 locations.
“It was aligned in the stars,” said Mike Donahue, LYFE chief brand communications officer and partner. “The Carlisle family, I’ve come to learn, is an incredible name in the restaurant, hospitality and development worlds.”
Chance Carlisle, president of Wendelta Inc., Carlisle Corp.’s Wendy’s operator, will become LYFE’s new chief executive officer.
Donahue said Carlisle Corp. was able to provide LYFE with valuable access to capital and a wealth of restaurant and development expertise.
“The more we talked to them the more it began to grow and some of our start-up issues they had answers for,” Donahue daid.
LYFE was founded in 2010 by partners Mike Roberts, Stephen Sidwell and Donahue. Roberts will serve as chairman of LYFE’s board. Roberts and Donahue are former high-ranking McDonald’s executives and Sidwell helped found Gardein, the meat substitute.
LYFE promotes a health-conscious and environmentally friendly restaurant concept, with menu items including less than 600 calories. The menu, built by Food Network’s Jeremy Bringardner, vegan chef Tal Ronnen and Art Smith, Oprah Winfrey’s former personal chef, has won praise on diner review sites and from critics. The restaurants feature indoor herb gardens, several seating arrangements and bamboo tables.
Donahue said LYFE found in Carlisle Corp. an investor that would help the restaurant chain grow while staying true to its principles.
“We had avoided private equity,” Donahue said. “We were raising money from friends and family and our private contacts because we wanted to stay true to our values.”
The menu includes grass-fed beef and chicken and a large offering of vegetarian and gluten-free dishes. Customers order their food at the counter and a waiter will serve it on high-end dishes. The restaurants also offer wine, craft beer, coffee, smoothies and a variety of teas.
“We believe we’re creating a new niche in the restaurant business,” Donahue said. “I call it a new lifestyle restaurant.”
LYFE currently has locations in California, Texas, Colorado, Illinois and Nevada.